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Give a man a fish…

April 22, 2018
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Low-income people in Memphis now have a sensible transportation alternative. (Commercial Appeal screenshot)

I don’t recall who, but a while ago, someone observed that it’s pretty darned expensive to be poor in America these days.

The article I read talked of living poor in New York City in the 1950s: You could stay in a cheap hotel or rooming house for $5-10/week; breakfast at an Automat (bacon, eggs, toast, coffee) was 35 cents, and you could get where you needed to go on the bus or subway for a nickel.

As I write this, an unlimited-ride 30-day MetroCard will run you $121 U.S. And those flophouses are long gone; they were considered a “blight,” and razed by acolytes of Robert Moses decades ago.

Things aren’t much different in the rest of the U.S. In fact, the housing affordability crisis has come home to roost for me… I’m already paying half my income in rent, and have been informed said rent is going way up as of September 1. Hey, the 1% who send their spawn to the local 3rd-tier state university can afford it, right? (In Bellingham, there is a tendency to fixate: retail is about Canadians; apartments are for students. And so on.)

Believe it or not, most folks who can’t make ends meet have jobs. And while the price of everything else has increased, their paychecks have not.

Public transportation in the U.S. is pretty sucky, mostly. You need a vehicle of your own. But if that vehicle develops a serious problem, the expense of a major repair will nuke most Americans’ budgets.

Unlike most other such online journals, my primary aim has always been to illustrate what owning a scooter is like for someone who is looking to use one as primary or secondary transportation. In that regard, I have been a lonely voice in the wilderness for the last decade-plus.

I’m therefore always pleased to discover people and organizations who are on the same page.

As reported by the Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tenn., a nonprofit called My City Rides is helping people get where they need to go, on scooters.

No giveaway, this—you need to have a job from which $3/day is deducted from your paycheck until the $3,285 OTD price is paid in full. That figure includes insurance, maintenance, licensing for rider and bike, and even a training class.

Part of the money comes from a dealership that will sell the program scooter (a SYM Fiddle III 200i) to anyone who wants one.

THIS is the way to make scooters and scootering a major part of the American landscape, folks. Americans have to be sold on the idea of owning and riding a scooter as much, if not more so, as on the bike itself. Initially, there will need to be hand-holding and support for new riders, so they get comfortable with riding, and their machines. Taking the money and telling them to read the owner’s manual is not enough.


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